Pastoral life of Gujjars and Gaddis: A brief review

In this article, I will explain about the pastoral life of communities in Asia and Africa. These are people who donate their whole life in the activity of pastoralism. I will explain about the lives of Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir and Gaddis of Himachal Pradesh. Gujjars belong to Nomadic and are hard working people, while Gaddis believe in Lord Shiva.

Pastoral Communities in Asia or Africa

Pastorals can be described as people involved in pastoral activities and pastoralism can be defined as a style of life where people rear animals and migrate from one place to another in search of pastures. Pastoral nomads primarily depend on animals. These people once played an important role in the village economy. They entertained, healed, did all odd jobs and various other things. However, they went through a period of slow decay with the arrival of the Britishers.

Pastoral Communities of Africa

  • Maasai

  • Bedouins

  • Berbers

  • Somali

  • Boran

  • Turana

Pastoral communities in Asia

  • Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir

  • Raikas of Rajasthan

  • Gaddis of Himachal Pradesh

  • Bhotiyas of Himalayas

  • Sherpas of Himalayas

  • Kinnauris of Himalayas

  • Dhangars of Maharashtra

  • Banjaras of U.P., Punjab and Rajasthan

  • Karumas and Kurubas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir

Gujjars are pastoral nomads found in Jammu and Kashmir. The origin of the Gujjars is much questionable. According to the noted explorer, Cunnengham, the Gujjars were found in every in every part of the north western India from to the Ganges and from Hazara mountains to the peninsular Gujarat. According to the Census of India 1931 Gujjars inhabited eight provinces besides Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab(undivided),north-west provinces(Pakistan) and other areas along the Himalayas.
These simple yet sturdy and hard-working people move to high alpine pastures in summer in search of good pastures. Normally several households move together and are know n as kafila. They carry all the essential household items on horseback. By the September, the Gujjars start moving towards the plains, where they sped their winter.
These great herders of sheep and goat carry the kids or lambs around their backs or in their arms. At night, lambs are allowed to go to their mothers. By night the herd the herd is guarded by dogs against strangers and wild animals.

A Glimpse of Gujjars lives

The Gujjars are hard working people but the women are more-hard working than men. They have a patriarchal family setup. Men wear long loose shirts know as kameez and salwars in dark colours. They wear white turban of muslin cloth in a distinct style. The female dress is more or less similar to that of men.

Gaddis of Himachal Pradesh

The Gaddis are not really nomadic they are semi- nomadic tribes of Himachal Pradesh. They reside in Chamba district in the upper reaches of the Riva river and the valley of the Budhil river. They have constructed two set of houses. During the summer these people move to higher areas in Lahaul and spiti. On the onset of winter the Gaddis along their families and flock migrate to Kangra valley. The herd is always accompanied by the Gaddi dogs, which protect the flock.
After migrating to the foothills, these people engage themselves in agricultural activities. The crops grown during this time are mainly millets. Apart from this some of the women engage themselves in weaving of wool. It is unusual that these people cross high passes without any device and are able to return in time.

A Glimpse of Gaddis Lives

The Gaddis are the followers of Hinduism and mainly worship Lord Shiva .Religion is an integral part of their lifestyle. Till today they offer sacrifice of goats. Thus, rituals and customs of these people are to a large extent influenced by their livestock. Since flock from an important part of their lives it is considered as a form of wealth or in other words dhan.
The members of the tribe are strongly attached to each other and come together on occasions like fairs and festivals. The gaddi men wear long hand-woven coats, salwars and turbans. They also take a cloth along with them, which is also used to carry kinds or lambs. The Gaddi women wear flared skirts know as launchiri and love to adorn themselves with gold earning. These people mainly speak Bharmaruri Gaddi language although colloquial Hindi is also spoken. Like Gujjars even their society is patriarchal. These people are also experts in curing ailments of the animals through herds. The Gaddi shepherds use special scissors for shearing. They practice shearing twice a year.

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Guest Author: Devinder Sadana02 Apr 2015

Good Article.
Good to know the lifestyles of Gujjars and Gaddi pastoralists.

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